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How Parents Loosening Their Screen Time Limits Right Now is Not Such a Bad Thing


How Parents Loosening Their Screen Time Limits Right Now is Not Such a Bad Thing

As Covid-19 keeps families at home for long stretches of time, parents are loosening their screen time limitations. Kids are spending much more time with screens than before the pandemic hit. Luckily, Harvard says it’s less about the amount of time spent using screens, as it is the way in which we use them, and our brain’s response to our digital activities.

The two biggest issues with screen time use are how it impacts sleep, and lack of boredom.

Kids need quality sleep for healthy brain development, and blue light can interfere with sleep quality. Lack of quality sleep can cause students to have decreased motivation, increased stress, and can lead to anxiety and depression.

Lack of boredom sounds like a good thing, but when kids are bored without access to screen time, they will eventually find ways to entertain themselves. Some of the best creative, energetic, wholesome play is born out of these periods of boredom. From this type of play comes important growth and brain development. 

Too often, parents are villainized for allowing their children access to technology. In actuality, there is little research that supports the idea that screen time is detrimental to children’s health. Certainly, it’s important to impose limits both at home and in schools. However, our society is an increasingly digital one. It is unreasonable to expect to lead a screen-free existence, especially in the wake of Covid-19.

The internet can connect us with family and friends- a very important feature during these socially distant times. Screen time can sometimes be highly educational, allowing children to explore literally anything in the world that interests them. It can provide a window to other cultures and ways of life. Many children with special needs rely on technology for communication, or to limit distractions and work on social skills. Certain video games have also been touted to promote hand-eye coordination and improve dexterity. In short, there are many ways that screen time is beneficial. The key is making sure that the online activities are quality ones, setting reasonable time limits to allow for healthy boredom, and turning off the blue light a couple of hours before bed.

As much as we would all prefer that students be in the classroom this fall, for many families, that will not be a safe option and we’ll need to rely on access to technology to continue teaching and learning.

As we make plans for the upcoming school year- whatever that might look like- teachers and parents should work together to strike a healthy balance between screen and screen-free activities. When used responsibly, technology can be the tool that connects us to one another and the bridge that unites us in the era of social distance. 

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How Parents Loosening Their Screen Time Limits Right Now is Not Such a Bad Thing

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Kristen Nance

Senior Member

Kristen Nance is an elementary school teacher in Oregon. She is passionate about children's literature, has an affinity for black cats, and is obsessed with ravens. She reads every mystery novel she can get her hands on, and feels happiest when she is near the ocean.

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